By PASCO TEMPLE AND KABS KANU :
The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has reinforced the health sector in Sierra Leone by making available to the President Ernest Bai Koroma led government the sum of Ten Million United States Dollars($10M) as a highly concessional loan.
This came into fruition Friday, April 17, 2015 when Dr. Kaifala Marah Sierra Leones Finance and Economic Development Minister and Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani President of IDB signed a “health sector system strengthening financing highly concessional loan agreement”.
Accordingly, the project is geared towards the realization of Sierra Leone’s National Health Sector Strategy – to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality through the strengthening of the West African Country’s health system, as well as improving the access to, and quality of maternal health care services both at community and facility levels.
The ten Million United States Dollars loan will finance the construction and equipping of two (2) new Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care facilities, rehabilitate and equip eight (8) existing facilities, construct and equip a new midwifery Training School, equip the School of Clinical Sciences in Kenema, train four hundred (400) community health care workers and officers including two hundred and eighty (280) midwives.
According to Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, “IDB is lending the loan at a highly concessional terms over a period of 40 years inclusive of 10 years grace period and a lump service fee of $300,000 over a 10-year period.”
He said the project aims to address some of the key pillars in the Government Recovery plan, which clearly articulates the achievable goals in 18 months and the medium term.
“My presence at the World Bank supported Ebola Recovery Conference is a clear manifestation of IDB’s continued willingness to support the Government of Sierra Leone Agenda for a better health System.
Prior to the signing ceremony, said Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani.
He praised the leadership role demonstrated by the Koroma led Government to contain the Ebola Virus.
He said, the critical challenge is for the Government to hit and maintain a zero case for a continuous Forty two (42) days period.
“As a development partner, IDB is committed to work with the Government of Sierra Leone to build a resilience health system to detect, surveillance and prepare response in the event of future outbreak.” said IDB President.
Responding, Dr.Kaifala Marah thanked the IDB’s President and conveyed His Excellency, President Koroma’s appreciation to IDB for the pivotal role the Bank is playing in supporting Sierra Leone development efforts, particularly in the areas of community development projects being implemented by Sierra Leone’s National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA). He also applauded the exemplary step taken to kick –start the financing of the health sector recovery plan.
“Government will diligently monitor and expedite the implementation of the project so that the expected outcome will be achieved in a timely manner.” Said Dr Marah.
The Finance Minister also commended IDB for the catalytic role they are playing in the implementation of the King Abdullah’s initiative ($35 million project fight Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Mali) and said “several measures are taken to procure equipment and essential items that supports the reopening of schools across the country.
On the issue relating to the private sector which have also been severely affected by the Ebola Virus Disease, Dr. Marah appealed to the Bank’s President to facilitate and broaden the implementation of the trade credit facility to Sierra Leone.
Concluding, President Al-Madani reiterated the IDB’s commitment to the programme and assured Dr. Marah, “the IDB will field a mission to Sierra Leone in May 2015 to engage both the Central Bank of Sierra Leone and Commercial Banks with the aim of establishing an Islamic Banking to facilitate trade among member countries.
In an interview,Dr. Kaifala Marah said “ even before achieving zero infection, our government is rebuilding the Public Health Systems . We want to deliver efficient public health services.